Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan (Book Review)

Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count
: 385

**TW: Self harm (blood mages need to cut themselves to use magic), parental abuse, war, torture and gore**

I’ve wanted to read this book for so, so long! And I know that it divides people, because so many hate it, a lot of people think of it only as “meh” but then there’s people like me who absolutely 100% LOVED this journey. It’s honestly not often that I see a book where I could throw my last name in and it would just blend in nicely with the others, also, if I am not mistaken entirely, there’s going to be a Katya in the sequel and that’s just one letter away from my name, so I am going to take it! All those minor details aside, monsters, gods and mortals with major morality quarrels are the way to my heart.

“There was madness in his black eyes – madness and something terribly close to divinity.
Which was, in essence, the same as madness.”

You don’t get much time to adjust to this very rich world before you are thrown into a war that has lasted centuries already. The different viewpoints are clear, but you uncover so much more to it all throughout the story, it’s hard to explain where you find yourself and your allegiances at the end of it all. Our three main characters all grew up within certain belief systems and it has shaped them into the people that are presented to us at the beginning of the tale. Especially Nadya’s religion plays a huge part of her self image and it’s understandable that she meets people who portray everything she was taught to hate with hostility. I thought I would be more annoyed at them for being so stubborn and unwilling to see the other person’s point of view, but ultimately, it just made for all the better tension when they all ultimately meet and have to team up. None of these characters are saints, even if some might believe differently, because they all have done terrible and selfish things at one point or another, but for me it was easy to see how (at least most of them) came to be that person. I did not hold their past against them, which made some betrayals sting all the more. But honestly, it’s not just the main three characters you find yourself easily attached to, I also found myself drawn to the fiercely loyal companions and was worried about their well being by the end just as much as the others. I am not exaggerating when I say I screamed “MY POOR CINNAMON ROLLS OF STEEL!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY BABIES?!?” during the final pages.

Now, I understand if the romance in the book might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It worked for me, but then … I am also someone who wasn’t bother by the Rey and Kylo Ren pairing in Star Wars? I chose that specific example, because I know the author is like the number 1 Kylo Ren fan and there are certainly some Reylo similarities to be found here. Just like that didn’t work for everyone, I am guessing it also won’t work for every reader here. I, personally, felt the tension and was fine with it.

“When he stepped past her, a smile flickered at the edges of his lips. There was darkness at the corners, something evil just underneath the surface, sinister. He turned and grinned at her, monstrous but beatific, holding out his hand, darkness gone. Maybe she’d just imagined it. She took his hand.”

There’s also the diversity I enjoyed a lot. While you feel this world largely inspired by Slavic culture, the world ranges from deserts to snow regions, includes people of color, with disabilities and different sexualities. To me, those are all parts of what makes for good and enjoyable world-building. I was most fascinated by the supposed gods and the religious texts and accounts of saints though! There’s definitely a lot more to it than meets the eye and I wonder what we will discover about their origin and purpose as the series goes on.

I am glad I waited beyond the hype and checked out the book myself, because for me, this was an immediate hit. Also, even though I still have to wait a couple months, I am way closer to the release of Ruthless Gods (aka the sequel) than I would have been had I read the book upon its release. I still want it so bad right now … the sooner the better!

Fazit: 5/5 stars! Give me all the monsters, gods and mortals and the sequel while you’re at it!

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts on it? Let’s chat!

Daydreamer Short Film

This is the first time ever that I’m talking about a short film on my blog, but when a friend of mine invited me to the team screening of his film “Daydreamer” I could not possibly decline and felt like I should share this with you guys.

daydreamer

They rented a screen at a nearby cinema and I was happy to see that the quite big room was pretty much full. Let me tell you a bit about the project though. The film was produced by Rafal Studios and lot of my classmates and friends from uni were involved. It was written and directed by Thaddäus Reich and is roughly 19 minutes long. The official synopsis is as follows:

“Moments before they reach the liberating border, two soldiers are trapped by a sniper closing in on them. The only escape seems to lie hidden in a playful childhood.”

The film wasn’t as confusing as I feared, but its disturbing ending definitely gave me food for thought. (I bet this short could spark another gun control debate!) However, I wasn’t surprised that Daydreamer had a gorgeous cinematography and an intense score to accentuate it. Since there is no dialogue, there’s also no language barrier which probably lead to the amazing fact that the film will be shown at the San Diego Film Festival and is in consideration for the Maverick Movie Awards. Since they are still a very young company coming from Austria, I think this is a really huge deal and I am so very excited for them!

If you want to know more about the film, you should go and visit at daydreamer-film.com. They are currently working to add to the site and after the festival circle you’ll be able to watch the movie there for free. For now you should head over to see the Trailer though!

In other news, the producer of Daydreamer Thomas Strini is already working on his next project RnR. It’s quite a different genre from the one he did before and quite honestly one I am not very familiar with. The film will be the kind of horror story that doesn’t show itself in the shape of a supernatural creature, but rather in a very familiar everyday setting which makes it all the more creepier.

rnr

So, they haven’t started shooting yet, so if you want to follow that process you should check out their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds to stay up to date. Also, around October they’ll still need some help with the Crowdinvestment (which is different from crowdfunding in so far that you’ll get part of the profit – if there is one!). For more information check in over at RnRmovie.com every now then, especially if you think you might want to be part of it!

Testament of Youth Review

A while ago I watched the Trailer for Testament of Youth and I knew I wanted to know more about it. I bought the book or rather the memoirs of Vera Brittain, which the movie is based on, but I haven’t managed to finish it yet. Nonetheless, I finally decided to watch the movie and I do not regret not having waited any longer! I will keep this post Spoiler-free but I cannot say the same about the comments!

Here some basic facts:

Genre: Biography/Drama/History

Length: 129  minutes

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson …

Director: James Kent 

Testament of Youth is the real account of Vera Brittain’s life and keeping that in mind, the movie was just so much more heartfelt and heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I can tell you that they did not stick to the book a 100%, but that was a thing of impossibility anyway. What fascinated me so much about it though, was that the point of view wasn’t from someone at the front, someone involved in the actual fighting, but rather the view of a person who got left behind. Vera does everything possible to be of help, joining the volunteers as a nurse and in that way she witnesses her own horrors of war.

I always have my problems with war stories. There are never any real winners. Yet, the movie shows why people joined up, what their course of thinking was – their motivation. It also shows how war changed them and in consequence also their lives, their thinking and the people they love. Towards the end Vera gives an impressive speech in front of a pro-war crowd and she makes it her duty to never forget what happened to the people she cared about. I think we can all agree that she succeeded in doing that.

The movie is so beautiful and sad to watch (I’ll admit to having cried … a lot). The combination of strong visual pictures and quite striking poetry was extremely touching. Everyone involved did an extraordinary job and I was delighted with the work of  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Taron Egerton (Kingsman) and even Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) whom I barely recognised at first. The real reason to watch is Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) though! She gives a strong, sympathetic and worthwhile performance, that I’ll be sure to remember.

Fazit: very recommendable!

Have you watched it as well? Have any of you read Vera’s memoirs?

Our Girl Part II

Since I loved Our Girl so much and I know that it only consists of 5 parts, I decided to review all of them. (Click here for last weeks post) So, here we go with Episode 2! Beware of Spoilers!

This time Molly had to decide who she can trust and where exactly her priorities lie. On the one hand she wants to follow Army regulations and her Captain’s commands, but she also developed a relationship with a local girl Bashira and she just can’t bring herself to ignore the connection she has with her. Again, the episode had everything from action and humour to really moving moments. Here a quick summary of my thoughts:

  • Smurf is back from the hospital and he wants to be there for Molly no matter what. She seems to think those are just empty words, but I believe he actually means it. Also, I seem to detect some jealousy because he can sense the blossoming romance between Molly and Captain James (I so knew this was going to happen!). I’m afraid that at some point, he’s going to really mess with Molly’s and James’ relationship.
  • We could already see that Molly liked Bashira in the first episode, but James told her more than once that she should stay away from the girl. Although I know where he is coming from, I also think that Molly was right when she said that they are already involved in the local’s lives. It was such an emotional moment for me when I saw Bashira with the bomb. Great acting on both sides, from Lacey Turner just as much as from Becky Eggersglusz!
  • I like how we slowly get the background of other characters as well, such as Qaseem in this episode.
  • I find it interesting that they always question the military’s actions as well as certain cultures, because it is true – what’s normal in one country, isn’t normal in another. While I have strong opinions on some subjects (such as child marriage and abuse – that’s always a NO!) who are we to judge which way of living is right?
  • Another thing I really enjoy is the music of the show. Music has always been important to me and it can really set a scene. The theme song is great (War Rages On by Alex Clare) and they always chose awesome songs by Daughter and London Grammar for their promos. The whole karaoke and the other singing scenes during the episode were absolutely hilarious!

The promo for next week looks amazing! I heard James say “Come back to me.” and that was it! I am so hooked on this and I definitely don’t want to wait a whole week … What’s your opinion so far?

Fall Review: Our Girl

There is My Girl and New Girl already out there, and now I present to you: Our Girl. What started out as a British one-time drama in 2013, is now a full 5-part series on BBC One. Just like in previous posts, I will do a little review on the pilot episode and tell you what I think, and it even seems like I can do this close to spoiler-free again.

To be honest with you, I didn’t know about the movie before I started watching the show. The promo for it was always played before the new Doctor Who episodes, and I was just immediately intrigued. Now, the storyline isn’t that difficult to explain: Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner), a young woman who joined the British Army as a medic, goes on her first mission to Afghanistan. Being the only woman on the platoon, she has to prove to her team and herself that she can do the job right. That pretty much sums it up, so here are my reasons why you should watch the show:

  • It is almost physically painful to watch Molly underestimate the situation. Of course the real thing will never be the way you imagined it, but she just seems massively unprepared for what’s ahead of her. Yet, she gets it together and thrives under the harsh circumstances – those transformations are always great to watch!
  • Iwan Rheon is in it! I’ll grant you that this might not be a reason for everyone, but I am a huge fan. I loved him in Misfits, laughed with and about him on Vicious and loathed him on Game of Thrones – I even wrote a whole post about him sometime last year (click here to read it). I’m not entirely sure what I think about his character Smurf now, but I’m looking forward to finding it out!
  • Sometime during the first episode I fell in love with Ben Aldridge, who plays Captain James. There’s so going to be a love story between him and Molly and you know how much of a romantic I am.
  • The whole theme of the show is compelling and also thought-provoking. In my opinion, it doesn’t just glamorise the actions of the army, but also questions them.

I am a little sad that the series isn’t longer, but I understand why they chose the format of a mini-series. I am definitely going to tune in again next week – how about you? What do you think about the show?

Legion Sequel: Dominion

Although I really like angels and therefore stories about them, I must admit that Legion didn’t make it on the list as one of my favourite films. The only reason I watched it was because of Paul Bettany, but I will grant them, that the story had potential. Potential for a sequel that is and I am so very glad that Syfy decided to take it upon them to make the sequel happen, which is now called Dominion.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, let me give you a hint: In 2010 there was this movie called Legion. (If you haven’t watched it at all and still intend to and you don’t want to be spoiled, you should stop reading now. Consider yourself warned: Spoilers!) It’s about God having lost faith in humanity and therefore sending his angels (under the command of archangel Gabriel) to destroy mankind, but archangel Michael (portrayed by Paul Bettany) is not about to let that happen. He manages to save a young couple and the woman’s baby and tells them that the child will be the future savior of humanity. That’s how the movie ends, so you get why I thought there was potential for more to the story.

Now Dominion takes place 25 years after the almost extinction of mankind and is about the problems to keep humans alive, fight the angels, discover who the savior is and all sorts of power struggles. Since I love TV shows that much, I really think that this sort of sequel should be done more often. Having a mildly succesful feature film as reference material and then creating a TV show as a continuation of the story was a stroke of genius. There were some minor changes made, the cast is of course entirely different, but all in all I think that Dominion is an entertaining show. If you are interested in supernatural, slightly apocalyptic shows, you should definitely take a look at it!

Lastly, some facts about the show: It started airing on Syfy in June 2014 and is about halfway through the first season. The cast includes: Christopher Egan, Tom Wisdom, Roxanne McKee, Luke Allen-Gale, Shivani Ghai, Rosalind Halstead, Anthony Head, Alan Dale, Carl Beukes and so on.

What do you think about this sequel? Have you watched the original movie?

How I Live Now – Book vs. Movie

How I Live Now by Meg Rossoff definitely isn’t a universally appealing story, but it somehow managed to fascinate me – which not a lot of stories have been capable of as of late. I have read the book and watched the movie and I wanted have finally decided to share my feelings about it with you.

First off, a little summary: Daisy, a fifteen-year-old girl from Manhatten gets sent to England to visit her family there. The only thing is, she never met her aunt and cousins before, because her father didn’t want to talk about anything related to her deceased mother. So, naturally, Daisy feels quite uncomfortable, rejected by her father and now having to live with perfect strangers. It doesn’t take long, until her aunt has to go away for a business trip and leaves the kids by themselves. Now the real storyline begins, because the next day World War III breaks out.

I don’t want to say more than that about the plot, because it will totally spoil the experience, but you are probably wondering why I categorized the book as not universally appealing. Well, one of the problems a lot of the readers complained about is Meg Rossoff‘s style of writing, which is very stream-of-consciousness, and there are no quotation marks around the dialogue parts. This might seem strange to some people, but it isn’t actually something that bothered me very much. Now on to the second point. Very early on in the story, Daisy falls in love with one of her cousins. I mean she’s a teenager and they’ve never met before and it really seems like they are in love, but some people complained that it would encourage incest. Now, I am not into incest stories, but somehow I didn’t mind that part either. I guess, that those are points that could turn people off from reading the book, but I don’t think it should.

From the more problematic parts on to what I really liked about the book. I thought that it was extremely interesting to see how Meg Rossoff would envision a worldwide war in modern-day civilzed countries. Mostly, when I read about war it is either about WWI or WWII or in some sort of dystopian novel, but this one actually took place in the here and now in a country like Great Britain. That’s also what I would like to have read or in case of the movie seen more about. The build-up and the resolution concering the war could have been way longer in my opinion. And I was extremely sad at the ending … I dread endings, so they are never really my thing.

Now, I’ve talked a lot about the book, but I think I enjoyed the movie even more! It is drastically different from the book, not so much in what happens (although there were some changes involved as well), but concerning the characters. A lot of people just didn’t exist in the movie or were portrayed completely different and usually that would annoy me, but in case of How I Live Now it weirdly enough didn’t. It was shot beautifully, it has a great soundtrack and I adore the main actors Saoirse Ronan and George MacKay. It really was heartbreaking! Other than that, there’s only to say that it was directed by Kevin Macdonald and stars (next to the people I mentioned before) Tom Holland, Anna Chancellor, Corey Johnso, Harley Bird and many others.

What did you think of the movie or book? Would you watch it after seeing the trailer? I think it is definitely a story that should be checked out even though you might hear a lot of negative things about it.